“I met him in a bar in December 1989. I was in New York for a couple of days. He offered to let me stay in his apartment and I accepted. He gave me the address, handed me the keys and disappeared. I spent the night alone in his bed. The only thing I learned about him came from a piece of paper that I found under a cigarette box. It said: “Resolutions for the New Year; no lying, no biting.” Later, I called him from Paris to thank him. We decided to meet and made a date for January 20th, 1990, Orly airport, 9:00 a.m. He never arrived, never called and did not answer his phone. On January 10th, 1991 at 7:00 p.m., I received the following call: “It’s Greg Shephard, I am at Orly airport, one year late. Would you like to see me?” This man knew how to talk to me.”
Calle’s art and life have always been difficult to distinguish one from the other. There is no work in which this is more pronounced than in The Husband, the continuation of Calle’s ongoing project Autobiographical Stories. Calle’s principal tool is language, with the visual component filling an illustrative role. In this way her work is not unlike the forensic process during a police investigation. What seems to matter most is not so much the object, event, or person ostensibly described, but rather the residual presence — not of the thing itself, but what we as viewers feel, remember, or desire of it.
In both The Husband and the video Double Blind Calle documents her short marriage to Greg Shephard. Having known one another only briefly, Calle and Shephard set out on a road trip across America. Working with video and still cameras they document their developing relationship by means of still and moving images. Their simultaneous narrations combined with the shot/reverse-shot cinematic technique give form to their dynamically opposing points of view. (Double Blind will be shown daily at the gallery at 1:00 p.m.)
In the series Last Seen… Calle juxtaposes people’s memories about absent artworks with the representations of the spaces once occupied by the works themselves. The current exhibition will include two pieces based on the notorious theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Because the installation of the collection in the Gardner follows an unalterable plan laid down by the founder, the spaces where these works once hung remain empty. Calle’s photographs depict these bizarre gaps and are accompanied by verbal recollections about the works, printed and framed to the same scale as the works themselves.